Community invited to Braidwood event | Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

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14 September, 2016

Community invited to Braidwood event

A black Guide Dog in harness.

Special Southern Tablelands presentation

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is inviting people living and working in the Southern Tablelands area to come together for a special presentation. 

The community event, which is the first of its kind to be held in Braidwood, will allow participants to hear about the services offered by the organisation, meet a working Guide Dog and watch two short documentaries - about children and adults dealing with the challenge of vision loss.

The group will also hear from Guide Dog handler, Elaine Heskett, who uses Guide Dog, Darcy, to move around safely and independently.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT began to assist Elaine when she was diagnosed with an eye condition called Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (AION).

With assistance and extensive mobility and orientation training from Guide Dogs, Elaine learnt to use a long cane before being paired with her first Guide Dog, Evelyn.  After four years of loyal service Evelyn was retired, at the age of 6 years, for medical reasons.

Now with her second Guide Dog Darcy, Elaine continues to live a busy and active life.

“Darcy allows me to walk upright and to use the little sight I have to orientate myself in my environment instead of only seeing a bit of the ground immediately in front of my cane,” she said.

“When he is in harness he is constantly watching the way ahead and also making allowance for any obstacles such as tree branches at head height. He helps me walk up and down steps, find doorways and refuses to cross a road or driveway even if I have told him to go if there is any danger from traffic.”

Elaine said Darcy had given her independence and the freedom to get out and about. “He has made it possible for my husband and family to be less anxious about me when I am out on my own,” she said. 

An insight into the services offered by Guide Dogs

Community Liaison and Bequest Officers, Katrine Mooney and Simon Whelan, who  organised the event, said the aim of the presentation is to give the community a unique insight into the services Guide Dogs offers at no cost to people who are blind or vision impaired.

“While training Guide Dogs is an important part of our work, our most common program is showing people with impaired vision how to safely move through different environments, using a range of mobility aids such as the long cane and electronic devices,” Katrine said.

Every day 28 Australians are diagnosed with uncorrectable vision loss, including nine who become blind.

“As we receive less than two per cent of our funding needs from the government, we rely on the generosity of the people of NSW and the ACT to continue offering our services at no cost to those that need it,” Katrine said. 

“It currently costs more than $35,000 to breed, raise and train, each Guide Dog.”

To find out more about Guide Dogs NSW/ACT visit, or if you would like to attend this function, call Katrine on 9412 9350, email kmooney [at] or Simon on 9412 9362, email swhelan [at]

WHAT: Guide Dogs NSW/ACT presentation– including the opportunity to meet a working Guide Dog and hear about the important work of the organisation 
WHO:  Open to all members of the community
WHEN:   10am-12.30pm, Tuesday, October 11
WHERE:  The National Theatre, 104 Kings Highway, Braidwood